Meet the P.E.I. man who has given blood 1,000 times

Ewen Stewart is 86 and is the first Islander to reach the milestone of 1,000 blood donations.

Ewen Stewart is 86 and still gives plasma weekly

Ewen Stewart prepares for his 1,000th donation with help from Sheila McKillop at Canadian Blood Services in Charlottetown. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Ewen Stewart knows the drill when he enters the Charlottetown blood donor clinic on Tuesdays. He confidently sits back in the chair and rolls up his sweater sleeve — ready to give up a little bit of himself to help save others, something he has been doing for 68 years.

This Tuesday marks Stewart's 1,000th blood donation, the first time that milestone has been reached by anyone on P.E.I. 

His contribution to the Island community is amazing.— Peter MacDonald

"I think it is wonderful if it helps a lot of people," said the 86-year-old Stewart.

Stewart is the 11th Canadian to reach 1,000 donations and the fourth in Atlantic Canada.

'That fellow helped save my life'

Stewart gave his first whole blood donation in November 1951 when a friend asked him if he'd like to come along as he donated blood.

Staff at the donation centre along with family members were on hand to help Stewart celebrate. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Stewart agreed and started the routine that would last for years. A competition at work encouraged him to continue making regular appointments to give blood, even if only a couple of times a year.

Stewart donated 134 whole blood donations over 42 years before switching to plasma once a week. Plasma is a blood component that is used to treat many types of cancer, liver diseases and bleeding disorders.

Stewart receives a congratulatory hug from CBS staff member Sandra Soloman. He says he plans to continue donating plasma once a week. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

One experience he considers especially memorable was being called late one evening to donate blood — the doctor told him the man who needed his blood was a mutual friend. 

"Then he told the person who had got the blood, and for years after that every time this person met me he introduced me to somebody, he said 'That fellow helped save my life,'" Stewart said.

'He's enhanced lives'

Stewart's family members joined him on Tuesday for cake to celebrate the milestone.

Stewart started donating blood in 1951 and is the 11th person in Canada to reach 1,000 donations. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

According to Canadian Blood Services, one in two Canadians is eligible to donate blood but only four per cent of the population are active blood donors.

"It is 100 per cent accurate to say that he has saved and he's enhanced lives over that time," said Peter MacDonald, Atlantic director of donor relations for Canadian Blood Services.

"It could be a hospital patient here in Charlottetown, it could be in the western part of the Island, could be someone across Atlantic Canada. We provide a national inventory, it could have gone elsewhere in the country but for the most part it's local first. So his contribution to the Island community is amazing."

Stewart said he plans to continue his routine of weekly donations to the Canadian Blood Services clinic in Charlottetown, until he is not longer eligible to donate.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Tom Steepe


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